Greenfields: School and Community Garden

Greenfields is a combined school (Haxby Road Primary) and community garden project. The community garden was started in 2011 when the planning included the local school, residents and scouts in the designs for an orchard, plus a nature-friendly fruit and vegetable space. It is still used as a picnic and recreation space, but now has more butterflies, bees, birds and wildlife.

Cared for by:
Greenfields Community Primary School

Things to help out with here:
Planting and growing fruit and vegetables

Fulford Community Orchard

Fulford Community Orchard is what remains of the old orchard that originally belonged to Naburn Hospital. Many of the trees were planted some ninety-plus years ago. When the hospital was demolished in the 1980s to make way for York Designer Outlet the orchard was neglected and uncared for. Later saved from development, over fifty trees have survived (a mixture of plums, damson, pear and apple). They have become the basis of a community orchard for Fulford.

Cared for by:
Friends of York Community Orchard

Things to help out with here:
Fruit picking and site management

Danesmead Wood

A small area of woodland of mixed trees including fruit trees and also a wild flower meadow. Used by the local schools for Forest School and by the local community. The Friends organise events throughout the year and always welcome new volunteers.

Cared for by:
Friends of Danesmead Wood

Things to help out with here:
Litter picking, maintenance of footpaths, maintenance of specific areas such as wildflower meadow

St Nicholas Fields Local Nature Reserve

Visitors to St Nicholas Fields may not immediately realise that this local nature reserve was formerly a rubbish tip. The area has since been transformed and is now a wildlife haven in the centre of York. Many birds live on or visit the nature reserve and just under 20 species of butterflies have been recorded. Tits, finches, thrushes, robins and wrens – nest on or regularly visit the site. Water voles are present, but it needs a mixture of luck and patience to see one. Over 200 species of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants have been recorded on the reserve including cowslips, tansy, teasel, field scabious and yarrow

Cared for by:
Friends of St Nicholas Fields

Things to help out with here:
Nature Reserve Management, scything, species survey, litter picking etc. See the website for latest information

Millennium Green (Poppleton)

This site is one of two green spaces created in York to mark the start of the new millennium. The site is managed by local people who have planted a thriving orchard. In addition to the usual garden and farmland birds, the site attracts cuckoos, reed buntings and corn buntings. A pond on the site features some colourful flowers including yellow iris, great willowherb and greater spearwort. Deer, foxes and bats can also be seen here.

Cared for by:
Nether Poppleton Millennium Green Trust

Holgate Dock

We have extended the embrace of Holgate community Garden to the green known as Holgate Dock (historically it was used to “dock” animals being herded to market in York) where, working with the children of St Paul’s Primary CE School, we have planted a perimeter of 8 fruit trees (3 plums, 3 dessert apples, and 2 crab apples) underplanted with a wildflower sward, as well as underplanted the established cherry trees on the Northern perimeter of the green with herbaceous perennial wildflowers, such as primroses and red campion, and a succession of thousands of native spring bulbs: snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), dwarf daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), and English bluebells (Hyacinthoides nonscripta).
Dogs are not allowed in this space.

Cared for by:
Holgate Community Garden (voluntary group of local residents)

Things to help out with here:
Apple and plum picking, litter picking, scything…

Holgate Community Garden

Holgate Community Garden came into being in Spring 2014: a community effort to transform a neglected park into a vibrant, life-enhancing space for anyone to come enjoy and for the community to have the opportunity to grow edibles and participate in gardening.

If you were to visit the garden today you could expect to see a jubilant, pollinator-friendly garden, all organically managed, with year-round interest and a wide variety of edibles grown in 6 new raised beds; flowering climbers rambling up new pergolas with lots of bird feeders frequented by long-tailed tits, blue tits, and robins; lots of nasturtiums, giant artichokes, and sun flowers; a herb and currant bed in its seventh year of establishment; a south-west facing wall with six-year-old espaliered apples and a variety of raspberry canes; 8 young fruit trees dotted through the garden (a plum, a gage, and several heritage apple varieties); the “Babby Oak” tree planted by local school children in the heart of a very small wildflower meadow entering its third year of establishment; and lots of children playing on new play equipment or picking and eating fresh herbs and veg, often making creations to proffer at their improvised cafe “The Ginger Cat” (named after local cat Ziggy, a regular at the garden)—collection and deliveries available from the window of the stationary wooden train.

Cared for by:
Holgate Community Garden (voluntary group of local residents)

Things to help out with here:
Weeding, watering, planting, raking, litter picking, pruning, scything…

Drop in Sessions:
Last Sunday of every month 3-4pm

Leeman Road Community Orchard

Leeman Road orchard was planted behind the war memorial in 2015 and the fruit trees are now well established.

Cared for by
Friends of Leeman Park

Rowntree Park

Rowntree Park is a 25 acre park around 15 minutes walk from York City Centre. The park was gifted to York City Council in 1921 by the Rowntree family as a memorial park. The park was to be a place to remember the Rowntree Cocoa workers who died in the First World War and be a place of rest and recreation for those who survived and their families. The park has numerous features including two large ponds, a Grade II listed lychgate and dovecote, play parks, a skatepark, basket ball court, table tennis facilities amongst others. There are also tennis courts and a cafe, but the latter are run separately to the rest of the park. The park is a mix of historical and traditional features along with newer additions that reflect changes in leisure and gardening/park design. Some features reflect the historical symmetrical layout of the park, biut the edges of the park and mini woodlands and wildlife areas. As the park is prone to flooding (based next to the River Ouse), this brings both challenges and diversity in terms of eco systems.

The council still do the basic management of the park in general, but most new planting and developments are down to the Friends of Rowntree Park. The Friends of Rowntree Park are a charity that help to maintain and develop the physical space, run community events and an extensive volunteer programme.

The physical areas the Friends of Rowntree Park volunteers care for include the long borders, the two railed gardens (the Family Garden and Sensory garden) the rose pergola and footprint maze, as well as newer developments like the Pollinator Garden. We also care for the Forest School story circle areas and others as and when our capacity and funding allows. The Friends have also started to develop a new wildlife area at the back of the Butcher Terrace Field and the beck area in 2021. This is a 4 year project that will enhance the orchard, include a new pond, bog garden and rockery area (to encourage amphibians and small mammals), coppiced wood, a new education area and much more. In addition to a pond in this area – we are also adding a new pond (with a viewing platform) near the play parks in conjunction with the charity, Froglife. In Autumn 2021 we are also starting a new project based on a creating a Tansy Beetle Habitat. This will be located near the Lovell Street entrance.

In addition to caring and developing physical spaces in the park, the Friend offer an extensive education programme and also activities to support the community’s mental health and well being. Examples include Forest School, Home Education sessions, Green Wood working, Natural Crafts for adults (Woods for Wellbeing), education days for local schools (including running the John Muir Award in conjunction with schools), a weekly craft group, special small volunteer groups, free nature and history walks and much more! We have devised Tree Trails, Yoga Trails, Art in the Park displays and ‘Words from a Bench’ projects.


Cared for by
Friends of Rowntree Park & City of York Council

You can support the work of the Friends of Rowntree Park volunteers by becoming a member for just £5 a year! We also always welcome volunteers, members or people who want to run events in the park that fit with our charity aims.


York Cemetery

York Cemetery is one of only two privately owned Victorian Cemeteries in the country. Whilst still a working cemetery, the site is actively managed to encourage wildlife and has a butterfly walk, woodland glades and many other features attractive to wildlife. Foxes can often be seen roaming the grounds. A number of wildlife events are organized during the year including bat nights, butterfly walks and moth nights.

More information in these leaflets

To get in touch, email

Cared for by:
Friends of York Cemetery

Things to help out with here:
Cemetery grounds management

Organised tasks take place on the first Saturday of every month from 10.00am till 2.00pm throughout the year. Please contact the office (Monday to Friday 9.00am to 4.00pm) to confirm the date and time. No experience is needed. Stay for just an hour or for the whole session.

The Weekday Scented Walk Group’s sessions are flexible but they try and put in a morning’s work every three weeks or so, usually on a Monday.

If you would prefer to volunteer on weekdays, there may be other opportunities available depending on your skills and experience.